Craftbird food truck owner opens restaurant in Newington offering popular chicken dishes

·2 min read

The Craftbird has landed in Newington. The food truck, which has been selling to the chicken-loving Hartford community for five years, opened a standing location at 1044 Main St. in early September.

“The trucks were in full swing. It was time for a brick and mortar,” said Eric Stagl of Simsbury, who founded Craftbird with one truck in 2016 and added another in 2019.

Stagl brought in his friend Will Sugrue of Middletown to help launch the brick-and-mortar in Newington. Sugrue said he believes in the concept. The small location focuses on takeout, but has 15 seats.

“Even before the pandemic, the industry was moving toward this concept, a more casual atmosphere, the quick-serve,” he said. Sugrue said this is just the beginning.

“The goal isn’t one store. It’s many stores,” Sugrue said. “Once we get this one perfect, and we establish what we want to do, we’ll think about a second.”

Fans of Craftbird’s “Sandos and Tenders” will think the store is perfect already. All the dishes that the food truck made famous in the Hartford area are on the menu. The trucks rotated three sandwiches at a time. The store has all six at once, made with chicken thighs marinated in buttermilk.

“Sandos” include the popular YardBird, with sriracha honey and pickles; The Red-Bird with firecracker sauce and cole slaw; the Hot-Bird with hot sauce, ranch and shredded lettuce; the Biscuit-Bird with pickles and jalapeno jelly on a biscuit; and sandwiches with bacon-avocado-chicken and with barbecue sauce- onions-American cheese.

Tenders, from chicken breasts, are offered either with buffalo sauce or a dry rub. Other dishes include street corn salad, crispy brussels sprouts, potato wedges, truffle mac and cheese bites, buffalo chicken dip and ice cream sandwiches made with vanilla ice cream and house-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Anything on the menu can be made gluten-free, using rice flour and a deep fryer used exclusively for gluten-free frying.

Hosmer Mountain sodas are served. Stagl said he is thinking up “football packs,” Sunday takeout meals that feed a crowd, as well as other promotions.

While the store is getting started, the food trucks continue to make rounds, to local breweries, Brignole Vineyards in East Granby, GastroPark in West Hartford and other places where hungry people gather.

The store is open Tuesday to Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and weekends 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Stagl said once staffing is up, he will open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Susan Dunne can be reached at